American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

From the Director’s Desk

Hope and Uncertainty: Another Transition on the Horizon

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs

As we turn toward another season under the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that this transition feels different, more hopeful. Even though there is still abundant uncertainty for all of us, there is a renewed sense of optimism that we will soon be returning to a more normal life. Some of this is the annual shedding of winter and the joy of spring, while another part is the accelerated and widespread availability of vaccines. While we still have a long way to go until infection surges abate and everyone feels safe again, we can at least imagine that spending time outdoors and being vaccinated will relieve us of our current isolated existences. The history of the 1918 pandemic teaches us that these catastrophic infection events do come to a close, but we know that each pandemic is somewhat different, and so we cannot know quite yet when it will be reasonable for everyone to travel, meet in large groups, and discontinue masking and distancing.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Cancer Programs are giving thought to what the new normal might look like and how we might leverage the new virtual technologies to work differently. There can be no doubt that we will want to resume in-person meetings, for example, to support the creative development of new standards, quality activities, and educational offerings. Leadership retreats, annual committee meetings, and board meetings will probably want to return to an in-person format going forward. On the other hand, it might be an advantage to host virtual meetings to fulfill certain functions, such as the dissemination of changes in accreditation requirements or the sharing of other important information. A virtual format might ensure better and faster access to this information where travel and expenses have historically limited the number of participants. On the whole, we are probably going to feel awkward for a little longer, especially while some of us are vaccinated and others are not. While we have not yet decided what our new normal should look like, and we don’t know when it will arrive, we know it is on the horizon. Sometimes that is enough.

ACS Cancer Programs Salutes Registrars during National Cancer Registrars Week

The American College of Surgeons Cancer Programs congratulates and recognizes cancer registrars during the 25th annual National Cancer Registrars Week, April 5–9, 2021. Cancer registrars are key contributors and provide integral support to their programs accredited by the Commission on Cancer (CoC), National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), and National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC), and to the data collection and analysis of cancer patient data to improve the quality of patient care. Their contributions are vital to our work.

National Cancer Registrars Week is sponsored by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA). The theme for 2021 is Cancer Registrars: The Driving Force of Cancer Data. The NCRA website includes links to resources cancer programs can use to observe the special week, including a press release, sample speeches and letters to elected officials, and social media graphics.

ACS Cancer Programs would also like to recognize the following Certified Tumor Registrars (CTRs) on our team who support our programs on a daily basis.

  • Deloris Akins, CTR, User Support Specialist, National Cancer Database (NCDB)
  • Asa Carter, CTR, Senior Manager, Education and Training
  • Vicki Chiappetta, CTR, Senior Accreditation Specialist, Accreditation and Standards
  • Donna Gress, CTR, Manager, Cancer Staging and Registry Operation
  • Susanne Kessler, CTR, Manager, Information and Data Standards, NCDB
  • Cindy Traylor-Richards, CTR, User Support Specialist, NCDB
  • Aleisha Williams, CTR, Technical Specialist, American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC0